ICYMI: McMorris Rodgers sits down with PBS’ To The Contrary

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 10, 2017) – Last month, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) sat down for an extensive interview with Bonnie Erbe of PBS’ To The Contrary to discuss her key legislation and what it’s like to be a mom and a lawmaker. In case you missed it, you can watch the full interview here: 

Key Quotes:

On how being a mom makes her a better legislator:

[8:31 – 9:05] “It’s because of Cole and some of the experiences that we’ve had firsthand that I’m better informed on what it really means to go through early intervention, and to work on IEP’s–the Individualized Education Plan for a student with disabilities–and to sit down and have those meetings. It also has informed me on how I think about healthcare; I’ve had my own personal experiences. Like anyone, we are a product of our own experiences, and I bring that to my work here on Capitol Hill. But it has, I believe, it’s really had a positive impact on my work here.”

On her focus on military issues:

[9:33-10:19] “I represent Fairchild Air Force base–it’s the largest tanker base in America. I’ve served on the Armed Services Committee, and then I married Brian–who is a Navy retiree, former Aviator–and I have, for many years, now co-chaired the Military Family Caucus, and have raised awareness on issues important to our military families. I co-chair [the caucus] with Sanford Bishop. He’s a Democrat out of Georgia, represents Fort Benning, and he’s traveled to Fairchild several times. I’ve been down to Fort Benning. This was a caucus that we put together to put a microphone in front of our military families, and highlight many of the issues that they face–recognizing that when someone joins the military, it’s not just an individual commitment, but it’s a commitment that the entire family makes.”

On her focus on hydropower and better forest management:

[11:05-12:15] “We could double hydropower in America. It is the largest renewable in the country–clean, reliable, affordable, and we could double hydropower in America without even building a new dam. Only three percent of the dams actually produce electricity, and with new technology, improved fish ladders, and turbines–we’re seeing the record salmon returns–and we’re also seeing the possibility to expand hydropower, so that’s an issue that I continue to promote. In the West we’ve seen catastrophic forest fires. It seems like every year they’re only getting worse, and I have been certainly promoting better forest management so we have healthier forests, and then some fixes to funding the fighting of forest fires. More funding because we were robbing from our forest management accounts within the Forest Service. A couple of years ago, we spent over half of the Forest Service Budget on fighting fires rather than actually managing these millions of acres that the Forest Service owns.”

On the Chair’s work to help people with disabilities:

[12:26-14:09] “So the ABLE Act, it stands for “Achieving a Better Life Experience,” and it allows an individual with disabilities–a family that has a child with disabilities–to set aside money, tax free, set up a tax free savings account similar to a 529 for saving for college or an IRA saving for retirement, so this would be for a child. Just as an example, when Cole was born, ten years ago now, and we were getting the news that he had that extra 21st chromosome, and in the course of that conversation there was a whole team of people around us–I remember them saying “and don’t put any assets in his name because he might need to qualify for one of the programs, one of the government programs, in the future.” It’s overwhelming news when you get this diagnosis, and you’re processing. I contend that if they told parents upon the birth of any child the likelihood that they might have juvenile Leukemia, or the likelihood that there’s going to be heart issues, this long list–it would be overwhelming to any parent, but that’s where I was, that’s what they were laying upon me. But they said don’t put any assets in his name, and I just felt like that was such a wrong message to be sending new parents that were so excited to have this baby, ready to sacrifice and do everything we can so that this child would have every opportunity possible, to say, “don’t put any assets in his name,” right? And it was because of the way the laws are currently structured.”

[15:36 – 16:13] “So now we’ve introduced ABLE 2.0, which is a package of bills that builds upon the ABLE Act, and we need to be addressing some of the barriers for those with disabilities to work. [Only 17.9% of disabled people worked last year], and that number hasn’t changed in forty years, and it is an untapped resource in this country. We need to focus on the ability, we need to focus on what an individual can do, and what they can offer.”

[18:35-18:51] “I think we all recognize that a job is so defining in our lives, and that it’s so much more than a paycheck. It’s what gives you purpose and dignity, and there are millions of people with disabilities that would like to have the opportunity to work.”

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